Mimi Perreault's Weblog

Bio: An avid writer, researcher and multi-media producer, Mimi Perreault has used her time in Washington to build upon her knowledge of the mediated world. She is a second semester graduate student in the Communication Culture and Technology Program and lives in downtown Washington, DC. In her lifetime, Mimi has lived on a sorghum farm in south Texas, a small Texas hill country artist community, and hurricane ridden South Florida.

 

Posts

 

Jun 11 2009

Networks against breast cancer

One in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her life time. Breast cancer is a disease that has global reach and affects the very make-up of societies. In some countries, breast cancer can increase poverty for women and children and terminal cases can leave children orphans. Diffusion and innovation are key factors to consider when making any development plan and perhaps most integral when examining relationships and how they effect adaptation and adoption.

Breast cancer education in Ghana, Courtesy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Breast cancer education in Ghana, Courtesy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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Jun 09 2009

Qatar: is there hope for a country building cities in the sand?

As I child I made several trips to the beach to build sand castles. Those castles would always be swept away with the changing of the tide. As the water rose, my sand developments crumbled.

Sand Castle by JP Morgan

Sand Castle by JP Morgan

That said I’m familiar with the process of development and infrastructure as well as how plans can look really good at the beginning but fail for one reason or another. Plans, resources and motivation are necessary—you can’t create something from nothing. Everything has to come from some where, even dirt. Perhaps this is a good way to look at the creation of cities in Qatar. Continue Reading »

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Jun 08 2009

“Greif” Lessons for the United States Economy

Sitting around and mourning the great American economy will get you no where. I’ve learned no one can get out of the way of the financial crisis—it is beyond a snowball or an avalanche.

//nsidc.org/pubs/notes/24/avalanche.gif

Avalanche, http://nsidc.org/pubs/notes/24/avalanche.gif

The economic crisis has affected every American. Perhaps current disparities in economic, political, and social outcomes reflect distinct institutions as discussed by Anver Greif in several of his works.  That’s why I purpose, the United States could take some pointers from Greif on International Development and public policy.

The main problems with the United States economy are that in the past two decades economic growth has mostly been financed by high levels of consumer spending, US house prices have fallen by 10 percent in the past 12 months, there is a low savings ration linked the current deficit and while prices are rising there is a lack of economic growth.

There are several lessons which the United States could learn from Greif’s analysis of history and economic development as well as relationships that helped to build that economic structure. While Greif uses the relationships and exchanges conducted during medieval trade as his main lens for examination, one might see similarities between the coalitions formed in medieval times and those formed in modern times. Coalitions often form bonds of trust—trust in your investors or the value of an investment between two parties. Continue Reading »

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Jun 04 2009

Leaning on tacit technology

Technology is defined in relation to its purpose and its user. My dad, who works as a network and IT professional for two companies has always told me that when I have a computer problem it is most likely user error. This used to frustrate me because I would spend hours trying to figure out what I was doing wrong only to find I had turned off something to make my computer and/or its program run right. These challenges led me to always place myself a step ahead of the technology that my school work or career was dependent upon for a final product.

The most important thing when dealing with a technology strategy is to take into account the resources you have and what it would take to implement that technology. Technology has advantages for those who use it. It can shorten distances and maintain connections where people lack the memory or ability because of time or space constraints.

The user/technology relationship

The user/technology relationship, By Gold Coast

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Jun 02 2009

Riding the Bus: a lesson in institutional adaptation

Riding the bus to class is perhaps the not best way to observe people, but it is a good way to look at institutions. Institutions in the sense that all people have formal, informal and transitional views which shape other institutions. On the bus, people act certain ways depending on whether they are willing to share the seat next to them, talk or even approve or disapprove of another bus patron’s behavior.

DC Metro Bus

DC Metro Bus

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Jun 01 2009

Design for Living: a lens for developmental policy

Noel Coward used his plays to question the traditional views of morality on the New York stage in the 1920s and 30s. In his play Design for Living, Coward presents an argument for the true meaning of love and challenges the audience to redefine their ideas about traditional love relationships from the Any-Thing-Goes/Bohemian point of view—one that sees love without boundaries or definition. Oddly, I realized the similarities while sitting in this Saturday’s matinee show.

Design for Living at the Shakespeare Theater

Design for Living at the Shakespeare Theater

In the play, Coward examines the love relationships between a woman and two men over the course of 10 years—and in policy making a developmental strategist would need to use perspectives from the past, present and future to develop his/her policies. Each has important actors which formulate a narrative.

I present this play as a metaphor for looking at developmental policy. Developmental policy must take into consideration the outside factors and phenomena which it can not control. Not unlike developing relationships, there are always outside factors which can effect how a policy is designed and implemented. Sometimes throwing out preconceived ideas about the design elements can create a clean slate on which to consider a new developmental strategy. By examining structure, technology, transaction costs, benefits and abilities and how they are interconnected one can gain a better understanding of Continue Reading »

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May 28 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness and Education, making an impact locally and globally

Choosing a cause to back for this assignment was rather difficult, because I feel like I’m involved in a number of causes as a result of my networks with family, friends and acquaintances. I made a list of causes which include:

  1. SaveDarfur.org
  2. Stop Global Warming
  3. The House of the Dying in India
  4. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer Foundation

The best example I can think of is my work with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation-not that the other causes are less significant. I just have more experience with this one at several levels. This organization is linked to me in several ways, and therefore sharing with people on a local level and even intimate level has been a lot simpler.

Volunteers working at the Survivor Tent at the 2008 Palm Beach Race for the Cure
Volunteers working at the Survivor Tent at the 2008 Palm Beach Race for the Cure Continue Reading »

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May 28 2009

Globalization according to Stiglitz

The Washington Consensus “one size fits all” mentality was a cookie cutter strategy (or a reform package) adopted by Washington to deal with the economic problems of developing countries. These problems were mainly managed by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department. Continue Reading »

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May 26 2009

Which nodes create successful networks?

Nodes in a network often reveal the network’s infrastructure and focus. Globalization seeks to restructure social, political and economic relationships between individuals, businesses and even states. Depending upon where the focus lies, the results and system’s structure can look very different. These factors (politics, economic relationships, and social foundations) can change the perception of the actors involved in the network and drive the network to success or failure. Globalization means these networks at their very roots are changing while at the same time they are being redeveloped.

Globalization is highly dependent on the interactions of states and other political systems.

For example, states often have control over the development of cities through restrictions and policies. Allen J. Scott and Michael Storper point this out in their essay, Regions, Globalization and Development when they talk about the benefits and sacrifices of urbanization (pg. 5). Scott and Storper identify the problem with “countries that urbanize too much and too fast, generating “macrocephalic” urban systems consisting of a few abnormally large cities in each country” which in turn put too much strain on the economy and the developmental network (pg. 5).

Macrocephaly is an abnormal largeness of the head. Something with a head too big for its body can loose its balance and result in a less manageable climate. All parts of a body must have equal function.

Thumbtack Press

Thumbtack Press

However in most cases the “nodes” are arranged by economic institutions. They often “entail the formation of routines of economic behavior that potentiate and shape activities such as production, entrepreneurship and innovation” (Scott and Storper, pg. 23). Because economic institutions are often external and are not tied to one area they have little connection to the community in which they have landed or its infrastructure. There is no link from one to another. In fact often countries are chosen because of their proximity to other countries and the number of workers available. Money drives this network. Continue Reading »

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May 21 2009

Networks and the Washington Consensus

Every Tuesday I have lunch with a dear friend, who I met through a network. My friend Candice is my friend as a result of relationships I’ve had with her two sisters (Abby and Katie).

Me and Candice

Me and Candice

When I told one of her sisters (Katie whom I was friends with when I lived in Florida) I was moving to Washington, DC (where Candice lived) I was then introduced to Candice. That was a little over a year ago, but since then we have become close friends. Her sisters have since become more of acquaintances, since one now lives in Kentucky and the other lives in New York City. Because of my previous relationships I have been able to get close to Candice. I understand her a lot better than I would have without those previous connections and we also know a lot of similar people because of that as well.

Candice, Katie and Abby last May

Candice, Katie and Abby last May

Candice and I exchange ideas and gain new perspectives on things, but we also share our daily experiences and concerns. Because we each have other networks we belong to, there are always differing opinions being brought to the table whether they are about politics, money, marriage or fashion. Although Candice and her sisters are related they have different networks and different opinions about things—just as I do.

Networks formed through family, friends, social organizations, academic and church communities also overlap professional, educational and social lives. Each group is diverse and provides different relationships and fulfills a different purpose in my life. These different networks provide insight on situations that are biased and unbiased, educated and uneducated, informed and uninformed. While their views may not all be adopted as my opinion, they help me to form my personal opinions on people and issues. Mark Buchanan examines these relationships in Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by identifying how small-world networks can limit the perspective of those involved. The same things that make a small-world network secure can also be it’s “Achilles Heel” (pg. 132).

The Washington Consensus was a result of the sharing of common ideas—coming from similar perspectives. Those formulating the plan were involved in other networks, but did not reach out for ideas from those networks or take-into-account differing opinions. For this reason the Washington Consensus made generalizations and failed to take into account that countries differ in structure, governance and therefore development strategies should be approached differently. The Washington Consensus policies attempted to prescribe each country as if it were giving penicillin for a range of different diseases—this did not work with medicine and does not work for countries. Some people are allergic to Penicillin; some are immune to its benefits. The short term solution may work at first but often leaves a lot more to clean up in the end.

Penicillin

Penicillin

An approach considers debate and outside opinions (those from outside the IMF and World Bank) as well as intrinsic on-the-ground research would definitely formulate new views. These newly formulated ideas could be applied to for the benefit of the developing country. Leg-work and conversation are vital to networks. Many times the IMF and World Bank representatives never set foot outside the capital cities of these developing countries, giving them a very limited perspective. They also only spoke with government leaders and did not speak with people at lower levels who were in need of the aid and would be working on the development projects. They could have met with some aid organizations that were already working on the ground and had relationships with the people of the country, thus making the transition from plan to project run more smoothly. Networks are vital for transitions.

My personal networks are what have made the transition from one location to another more fluid. I’ve lived in Texas, Florida and Washington, DC in the past 6 years. Some of these networks were created for me, others I had to create myself. Professionally I’m apart of several networks including the National Press Club, former Palm Beach Post writers and other journalists that I have worked with or encountered through education. These networks have helped me find contract work. Some of my educational networks have become professional and social networks, I’m also part of networks from former school and college affiliations, including my Sorority Alumni Group, Baylor Alumni Association and The Baylor Women’s Network. Of course there are the connections that I have formed since I enrolled at Georgetown, through CCT and student organizations.

These network webs are a good example of how one person can become connected to several different people and therefore gain several different ideas. People must seek out differing ideas to formulate new idea. Perhaps by circulating through different networks the Washington Consensus would have become less of a consensus and more of a collaboration of ideas for the betterment of each country and its individual needs.

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